EASTERN TURKEY TOUR
Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Nemrut, Mardin, Tatvan, Van, Kars, Erzurum and Trabzon.
Our East Turkey tour begins in Cappadocia and can easily be combined with a few days in the region. You can start this tour in Gaziantep by plane from Istanbul or Ankara. Leave us a message for inquiries.
After breakfast at your hotel in Cappadocia, we will depart at 08:00. Stop for lunch at Kahramanmaras and taste the famous ice cream. Continue to visit the world famous Gaziantep Mosaic Museum. This museum displays an exquisite mosaic that was discovered at the Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma before the Birecik Dam flooded most of the site. We visited the Old City Castle and the Copper Bazaar which are located in the city centre. This bazaar is one of the most special and oldest in Turkey. Here you will find various copper crafts. We will also have the opportunity to taste the famous baklava; a sweet pastry made of layers of filo, stuffed with chopped nuts and sweetened and mixed with syrup or honey (baklava originally comes from Gaziantep). After the tour, drive to the hotel for check-in. The rest of the time is free. Overnight in Gaziantep.
After breakfast, check out from our hotel and drive to Sanliurfa. Urfa has been occupied since the Babylonians, followed by the Hurrians, Hittites, Assyrians and Greeks. Today we visit the Archaeological Museum of Urfa. The museum presents extensive collections established in the Harran and Göbekli Tepe areas. We also visited the sanctuary of Ainzelha, a lake with millions of domesticated fish. In Urfa we visited the cave where the prophet Abraham was born. Then walk through Sanliurfa’s local covered bazaar. Travel through the city and discover many hidden treasures. Evening free at leisure. Overnight in Urfa.
After breakfast at the hotel, we visit nearby Harran to see the incredible beehive houses. According to the Bible, Haran is where the prophet Abraham spent many years with his family before emigrating to the Promised Land of Israel. There are excellent photo opportunities in the area. In the afternoon drive to Kahta city. On the way, you’ll see Göbekli Tepe, a hilltop shelter built on the highest point of a long ridge about 15 kilometers northeast of the town of Urfa. What makes Göbekli Tepe unique among its kind is the date of its construction, approximately 12,000 years ago, approximately 10,000 BC. In the afternoon, hike to the summit of Mount Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites) to admire the sunset and marvel at the colossal heads and statues of ancient gods while immersing yourself in mythology. This remarkable landmark sits at 8,000 feet above sea level. The hilltop complex consists of two flat areas scattered with statues, separated by gravel false pinnacles. Antiochus built the entire complex some 2,000 years ago as a memorial to his sacred lineage. Also, be sure to take time to visit the ancient castle of Arsemeia, cross the still-working 3rd-century Cendere Bridge (Septimius Severus Bridge) and the Karakus Tomb. After visiting Nemrut, drive to the hotel. Overnight in Adiyaman.
After breakfast proceed to Mardin. We will arrive in Mardin around 11:00 am and visit this ancient historical city. Mardin is very unique with its beautiful old Arabic style houses. These houses are often decorated with elaborate carvings. This is a very lively trading center, and people from the surrounding villages come to buy and sell. We will enjoy the magnificent view of the plains of Mesopotamia. This is a city that played an important role in the early development of Christianity. We visit the Church of Forty Martyrs (Kirklar Kilisesi). The church dates back to the 4th century and was renamed in the 15th century to commemorate the Cappadocian martyrs, and the beautiful carvings above the entrance now commemorate it. Then we will visit Zinciriye Madrasa (Zinciriye Medresesi). The seminary was built in 1385 by Melik Necmeddin Isa. We also visited the Deyr-az-Zaferan Monastery outside the city, which was founded in 762 AD. It has been the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate for nearly 800 years. Stroll through the bustling streets and bazaars and admire the stone carvings around the city. The next stop is the ancient city of Dara known as Ephesus in Mesopotamia. Overnight in Mardin.
Today we drive to Hasankeyf, stopping at the beautiful town of Midyat, visiting monasteries and old houses on the way. Hasankeyf’s history spans nine civilizations, archaeological and religious. Hasankeyf dates back 10,000 years. That’s three times longer than the Pyramids of Giza and ten times longer than Stonehenge, making it seem like the glorious Mayan and Inca civilizations flourished only yesterday. When the Ilisu Dam is completed, some of the city’s historical treasures will be submerged. These include ornate mosques, Islamic tombs and cave churches. After lunch by the Tigris River, we drove to Tatvan, a small village by Lake Van, to watch the sunset over the lake. Overnight in Tatvan.
Depart from Tatvan and a beautiful drive around the lake to reach Van city, established 13th century BC. From here, we will take a ferry across the lake to visit the finest Armenian architectural wonder of the Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island. Step over to the huge Van Castle from the days of Urartu and see the hieroglyphs as you sense the spirit of the once Urartu capital Tushpa, feel the salty waters of the great Lake Van called as ‘the Sea’ by the locals. Overnight stay in Van.
After breakfast, drive to Dogub Beyazit along the “Silk Road”. On the way, we visited Muradiye waterfall. A rather large waterfall that usually freezes over in winter. It is located north of Muradiye, about 80 kilometers north of Van, near the highway to Dogubeyazit. On the way we also had the opportunity to see Mount Ararat from all directions. Some believe it is the resting place of Noah’s Ark; but to this day, no one has found anything confirmed to be the Ark – but the search is still ongoing. We stopped to look at the IshakPasa Palace. The complex is a combination of a mosque, a fort and a palace, and originally had a room for each day of the year! Below you can also see the remains of EskiBeyazit and the Urartian city built in 1000 BC. Flowering. Overnight in Kars.
Depart early in the morning and drive 45 minutes to the medieval Armenian city of Ani, which is mostly in ruins. Impressive fortress walls still surround the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansels. Walk around the ruins and enjoy beautiful views of the Armenian border. Imagine if it was a city of one million people, comparable to Baghdad at that time! The city has witnessed the cultures of Urals, Armenians, Georgians, Mongols, Russians and finally Turks. You can also visit the impressive Kars Castle and historical sites around the city. After visiting the castle we will visit the Church of the Holy Apostles (12 Havari Kilisesi) This church is a former Armenian church located in Kars in eastern Turkey. It was built in the mid-10th century by the Bagratid King Abbas I of Armenia (reigned 928-953) and converted into a mosque in 1579. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was converted into a Russian Orthodox and later Armenian cathedral. It was converted into a mosque again in 1993. Return to the hotel after the tour and spend the night in Kars.
Depart Kars after breakfast and head southwest to Erzurum. Very interesting villages with stone houses and black sheep on green meadows. Visit a 12th-century madrasa (Seljuk school). Talk to the imam at the 12th-century mosque and visit the ethnographic museum. Visit an old caravan stop where local black stones are set in silver and gold by local artists in the most beautiful art form. Overnight in Erzurum.
We begin the beautiful 5-hour drive to Trabzon, winding along the river with many photo spots and Karacha Caves on the way. Visit the Sumela Monastery, also known as the Blessed Virgin Mary Monastery. It is said to be neither on earth nor in heaven. Excavated on the hillside, it looks like a nine-story building suspended in the clouds, sitting on the top of the forest. A short hike through the rainforest leaves no doubt about where you are in Turkey. Free and overnight in Trabzon in the evening.
Visit Trabzon city in the morning. Trabzon briefly became the capital of the Byzantine Empire after the Crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204. Longing for the splendor of Constantinople, in Trabzon they imitated on a smaller scale the churches of their beloved city. Hagia Sophia in Trabzon is much smaller but gives you the same sense of religious piety as Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. After sightseeing transfer to Trabzon Airport and fly to Istanbul or other cities at desired time.
Including: Licensed English speaking guide, Transportation with A/C vehicles, Lunch, Entrance fees, All taxes
Excluding: Beverages at lunch, Tips, Personel expenses